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Screenshot of New America’s report.

 

What does high-quality pre-K look like?

It depends on where you look, according to a new report from the think tank New America.

“Since publicly funded pre-K programs are guided by varying intents, regulations, and funding approaches, there is little continuity in early learning. There are uneven standards for program quality, variable hours of coverage, incongruent eligibility requirements, and competing demands for accountability.”

Despite this “uneven” practice, the research does provide clear answers of what quality looks like.

To get a sharp picture of quality, New America’s report — “Indispensable Policies & Practices for High-Quality Pre-K: Research & Pre-K Standards Review” — “synthesizes recent meta-analyses and other studies” and “analyzes existing pre-K quality standards.”

Six themes emerged from this process: (more…)

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This summer, the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New Jersey released a policy brief on its federal preschool development grants.

It’s an upbeat story – but one with an unknown ending. New Jersey has successfully expanded preschool programs. But it’s not clear what will happen to this growth once federal funding runs out.

The state made preschool history thanks to two New Jersey Supreme Court rulings that required officials to “provide quality preschool in 31 low‐income towns so that young children had the best opportunity to succeed in kindergarten and beyond,” the brief explains.

This investment paid off. “Three studies by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) found that children who attended the state‐funded preschools showed significant progress in language, literacy, math and science and were substantially less likely to repeat grades.”

But after a small amount of additional expansion, progress on pre-K stalled.  (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Early educators’ salaries are unconscionably low, but Massachusetts leaders are starting to address this.

The Washington Post sounded an alarm about early educators’ salaries last year, reporting:

“The people who are paid to watch America’s children tend to live in poverty. Nearly half receive some kind of government assistance: food stamps, welfare money, Medicaid. Their median hourly wage is $9.77 — about $3 below the average janitor’s.”

The post cited a report written by Marcy Whitebook, noting:

“In a new report, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley warn that child care is too vital to the country’s future to offer such meager wages. Those tasked with supporting kids, they explain, are shaping much of tomorrow’s workforce.”

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo had shared a similar warning a few months earlier, the Boston Globe reported. DeLeo declared that the early education workforce was “in crisis.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Inequality between children from low-income families and those from high-income families starts early – and creates a daunting achievement gap.

“…children’s earliest learning experiences and outcomes” vary considerably “based on their parents’ incomes and education,” Sara Mead writes in “Education Inequality Starts Early,” a U.S. News and World Report article.

Mead focuses on children’s earliest years, a topic she says is missing from recent debates about inequality.

The seeds of educational inequality are sadly familiar. Middle class children are more likely to be read to, and according to the well-known Hart-Risley study, they hear 30 million more words than their lower-income peers.

“As a result, by the time they enter kindergarten, children from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds are already far behind their peers in the highest quartile of socioeconomic status on measures of early reading and math skills,” Mead writes.

The good news: (more…)

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Screenshot of the National Women’s Law Center website

 

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) is rolling out a new campaign called “Child Care Now.”

The campaign is based on four crucial facts about high-quality child care:

• it helps parents get and keep jobs

• it gives children a good start in school and life

• many families can’t access or afford this care, and

• many child care providers aren’t earning enough to get by

“Child care is so underfunded that five out of six of the 14.2 million children eligible for federal child care assistance do not receive help,” Helen Blank, the director of Child Care and Early Learning at NWLC, testified last year before the Democratic Women’s Working Group, an organization of members of the U.S. House of Representatives. (more…)

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“We don’t have to talk anymore about the value of early childhood education: everyone agrees it’s critical. We do, however, have to talk about affordability, logistics and policy. With preschool tuition running $10,000-$30,000 per year, the cost of sending one child to preschool can be more than a family’s rent or mortgage. Early childhood education is not just a child development issue, it’s an economic one…”

“To address this issue, the city convened an Early Childhood Task Force in 2014. Its 2015 report articulates the admirable vision that “all children in Cambridge [will] receive high quality early education and care from birth through third grade,” and recommends initial steps toward that goal…”

“To start this process, the council and committee will have a joint roundtable discussion this fall. One of the main tasks of the roundtable should be to set a deadline by which a comprehensive system of early childhood education will be in place. A deadline will force us to answer, sooner rather than later, the questions related to policy, financing, and logistics.

“Some of those questions are: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On Friday, July 7, 2017, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the state’s fiscal year 2018 budget. The budget calls for $40.2 billion in spending, according to MassLive.com. That’s an increase of $1 billion over last year.

 

Funding highlights for early education and care include:

 

• $15 million for a workforce rate reserve

 

• $200,000 for preschool planning grants, and

 

• $1 million for Reach Out and Read

 

Total FY’18 funding for early education will be higher than FY’17 levels, but still several million dollars lower than the budgets that the House and Senate approved just a few months ago. 

 

The next step in the budget process: The FY’18 budget awaits Governor Charlie Baker’s signature. 

 

Please contact Governor Baker and urge him to sign the budget into law, preserving investments in high-quality early education. 

 

Show your support for the early education workforce: email the Governor now or call his office at: 617.725.4005.

 

For more information visit the Strategies for Children state budget webpage, or contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org.

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